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The Top 7… Bestest frenemies

Once a videogame hero has more than one or two adventures under his or her belt, it simply isn’t enough to just have an archenemy anymore. To keep things interesting, they need a foil, a rival, or some other angry opposite number obsessed with matching wits with them. Sometimes, those characters stick around long enough to make themselves an indelible part of the series, even going so far as to make friends with the protagonist – although more often than not, their friendships tend to be shaky at best, and even those involved might never fully admit to them. Relationships like that tend to make for gaming’s most enduring and interesting rivalries, and what follows are some of the most notable.

7. Wolf O’Donnell

Frenemies with: Fox McCloud

Making his first appearance in Star Fox 64/Lylat Wars, Wolf headed the Star Wolf team, and was notable mainly for looking and acting like Fox McCloud would if he were gray and also a bastard. As Fox’s opposite number, Wolf was a mercenary working for villain Andross, and popped in whenever the situation called for a dogfight against an evenly matched foe. He was also a pain in the ass, tending to show up expressly to distract players from some other important, possibly timed objective.

Wolf never showed any friendly inclination whatsoever toward Fox in SF64 (unsurprising, considering that one of his wingmen, Pigma Dengar, was complicit in the death of Fox’s father), but he softened considerably in Star Fox: Assault. Starting out as an antagonist, he eventually decided to put aside his differences with Fox in the face of an invasion by the alien Aparoids, even going so far as to fight by Fox’s side and rescue him from an ambush (something Wolf later claimed to have done simply because he wanted the privilege of killing Fox himself).

The grudging conversion to hero became complete at the end of the game, when Wolf and his team seemingly sacrificed themselves to bring down the alien armada, appearing to die for the same pilots they’d sworn to defeat.

Above: And so, a meme was born

Of course, a frenemy as likably snide as Wolf couldn’t be kept down for long, and he returned again in Star Fox Command. Here, his redemption was pretty much assured – although depending on the direction the story took, he could exact some measure of revenge on Fox by recruiting Fox’s girlfriend, Krystal, to his mercenary outfit. Consider it proof that it’s possible for a villain to reform and still be a complete bastard.

6. Knuckles the Echidna

Frenemies with: Sonic the Hedgehog

These days, Knuckles is pretty firmly in Sonic’s infuriatingmenagerie of dopey allies, but that wasn’t always the case. When he first debuted in 1994’s Sonic the Hedgehog 3, in fact, he was an outright enemy, having been tricked by Eggman into thinking that Sonic had stolen his Master Emerald.

Above: Punching a dude and then cackling about it is not very heroic behavior, no matter what you think he’s done

Sonic and his new floating red marsupial friend eventually patched things up (before going on to star in their own spinoff, Sonic & Knuckles), but their friendship was pretty shaky for some time afterward. Rather than hang around with Sonic and freeing birds from robot exoskeletons or whatever, Knuckles struck out on his own, returning to lock horns with the blue hedgehog as recently as 1999’s Sonic Adventure.

Above: Man, you just never learn, do you?

Since then, he’s taken a more subdued role as one of Sonic’s buddies, but the potential for a violent flare-up is still there. Sadly, we’ll probably never see it, as Sonic Team saw fit to replace Knuckles' wild-card role with Shadow the Hedgehog, a lame evil-twin embodiment of chaos who’s badass enough to wield real guns and star in a game that nobody asked for and everyone seems to revile. Shadow’s manufactured, anti-hero brand of cool isn’t as volatile or as interesting as Knuckles’ baseless suspicion and obsession with jealously guarding emeralds, though. And if the Sonic franchise hadn’t become such a confused mess over the past 10 years, we’d have probably seen Knuckles throw down with Sonic at least one more time.

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41 comments

  • 510BrotherPanda - September 19, 2011 8:44 p.m.

    Keep up the great work, Mikel; your Top 7's for the past couple of weeks have been pretty stellar. Which on was the one that got Brett's input, like you mentioned on TR?
  • UsernameLoser - September 19, 2011 8:53 p.m.

    No First, good.
  • 510BrotherPanda - September 19, 2011 8:58 p.m.

    I'm not that kind of GR user...besides, Mikel's articles are what attracted me to this site, and subsequently, TalkRadar.
  • Corsair89 - September 19, 2011 8:55 p.m.

    The Ace Attorney series was always really good at giving they're characters personality and Edgeworth is far and away the best. So Capcom, for the love of God, LOCALIZE ACE ATTORNEY INVESTIGATIONS 2!!!!!!
  • garnsr - September 19, 2011 9:12 p.m.

    It's 6:00 here in Hawaii, meaning it's way too late to be posting Top 7's in California. I was pretty sure Carmelita Fox would be here. She might lean more into the outright enemy category, but she does work with Sly every game, I believe, and she certainly feels like a frenemy.
  • Asloveszuko - September 20, 2011 5:33 a.m.

    Very true, I didn't even think about her, shes a great frenemy!
  • festerblatz82 - September 19, 2011 9:29 p.m.

    Splendidly written.
  • LiaraLoveSlave - September 19, 2011 10:25 p.m.

    Excellent work as usual Mr. Reparaz, can't wait to listen to the breakdown on the official podcast of the internets. Also, using Hurly Gloves for a classic Mario-toss attack FTW!
  • GameManiac - September 19, 2011 11:21 p.m.

    Well, now I see why the Metal Gear franchise is M-rated... As well as a better understanding of Wolf and Edgeworth.
  • AuthorityFigure - September 20, 2011 12:22 a.m.

    Gay Fox enjoys Solid Snakes.
  • taokaka - September 20, 2011 12:42 a.m.

    I can think of a couple of people that deserve honourable mentions but great list and Edgeworth was a total dick at the start of ace attorney and by the end he was a lovable dick.
  • Plan10FromOuterSpace - September 20, 2011 12:43 a.m.

    What about your rival in pokemon, I know you can choose his name but that wouldn't stop him being be my number one pick. Great list as always Mikel
  • tareq - September 20, 2011 1:24 a.m.

    F-cking Ninja in Peace Walker was a b-tch. Especially cause I decided I had to do the entire game without killing anyone Still it remains among my favorite MGS games
  • tareq - September 20, 2011 1:25 a.m.

    Woops meant Portable Ops
  • CombatCat120 - September 20, 2011 11 p.m.

    Gray Fox from Portable Ops wasn't that hard. I managed to tranquilise him by studying his patterns.
  • tareq - September 21, 2011 8:19 p.m.

    That motherf-cker just dodged everything I fired at him
  • PanaMusica - September 20, 2011 1:59 a.m.

    spudnut shop FTW #offtopic
  • Mezolitik - September 20, 2011 4:39 a.m.

    Frenemies are always more interesting than heroes. I love Catwoman in her comic book appearances, and she looks awesome in Arkham City. Ada Wong tops the list for me though. She was just incredible. I always felt bad for Krauser though. It always felt like he was being 'played' by the bad guys.
  • shawksta - September 20, 2011 5:20 a.m.

    Another awesome Top 7 article by Mikel, reallt detailed. Heavily agree on all this, Edgeworth was a douche dick, now he's lovable, but still a dick. Beside the spin offs of Mario and Bowser being together, the real games really capture his awesomeness in both villain and helper. Mario RPG, Bowsers inside story and Super PM has him helping but also points out that its because, "I am the only villain here, MEEEEE!" He even says something in Galaxy 2 about you being his best rival, actually complimenting you, and that ending where he just gives up and falls is freakin epic.
  • Asloveszuko - September 20, 2011 5:34 a.m.

    Great Top 7!

Showing 1-20 of 41 comments

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